YouTube have finally released a statement on Logan Paul's 'Suicide Forest' video
A little over a week ago, not many people had heard of Logan Paul. Avid YouTube-watchers and Vine fans might have recognized the 22-year-old from his "prank" videos and vlogs but, to most people, he was just some overgrown kid on the internet.
Now, however, he's known worldwide as the guy who mocked a suicide victim.
After posting a video titled, "We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest...", Paul was roasted by Twitter users and celebrities for showing such a lack of respect and consideration for suicide victims and their loved ones. The YouTuber did post an apology claiming he posted the video to create a "positive ripple on the internet" and raise awareness about mental health conditions, but nobody was buying it - especially after more clips of his Japan trip emerged, and they all turned out to be equally offensive.
Outrage over the video wasn't just directed at Paul, however. YouTube itself received a ton of criticisms, firstly for allowing the 15-minute vlog to stay up in the first place, and secondly for allowing the content to be monetized. Paul's outrageous mockery of the Aokigahara Forest got so much attention, in fact, that YouTube decided to manually add it to their trending page - an action which many people took as evidence that they cared more about profit than they did the wellbeing of everyone who watched the unsettling footage.
Under any circumstances, this would seem irresponsible, but considering Youtube has previously taken down and hidden videos with LGBTQ content, or demonetized well-meaning posts that actually discussed mental health problems, the platform's decision to allow Paul so much attention was just one more mistake on an ever-growing list.
Finally, then, after more than a week since the video went viral, YouTube have spoken out about the incident.
In a series of tweets, the video platform posted an "open letter" to all those who have been negatively affected by Paul's - and their - actions.
"Many of you have been frustrated with our lack of communication recently. You're right to be," they wrote.
"Like many others, we were upset by the video that was shared last week. Suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views. As Anna Akana put it perfectly: 'That body was a person someone loved. You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.'"
They went on: "We expect more of the creators who build their community on @YouTube, as we’re sure you do too. The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences."
In a rounding-off statement, they apologized for their delayed response and said they would make the effort to ensure that similar videos would not be allowed in future:
"It’s taken us a long time to respond, but we’ve been listening to everything you’ve been saying. We know that the actions of one creator can affect the entire community, so we’ll have more to share soon on steps we’re taking to ensure a video like this is never circulated again."
Many people were appreciative of YouTube's response, and respected that the platform took the time to own up to their mistakes, rather than ignore the situation until it was hopefully forgotten about.
Others, however, did not believe the apology was enough.
While it's good that YouTube did finally accept some accountability for the video, it is also true that their actions seemed to be too little too late. If nothing else, this incident will hopefully serve as a warning for the future, and harmful or offensive content will be blocked before it can have as great an impact as this one did.